For immediate release: June 4, 2018

Canadian organizations challenge Canada to a zero plastic waste future

Forty Canadian environmental groups have come together to set expectations for Canada’s national strategy on plastic pollution

Toronto, ON – Today, over 40 of Canada’s leading environmental and civil society groups released a joint Declaration on Plastics, urging the Federal Government to use its G7 presidency to take meaningful action on plastic pollution.  Towards a Zero Plastic Waste Canada unites the voices of environmental groups from across the country in challenging the Canadian Government to ensure Canada has zero plastic waste by 2025.  The declaration maps the route to a zero-waste future, and calls for bans on harmful or non-recyclable plastics and making producers of packaging responsible for the capture and recycling of their own products.

Plastic pollution will be a central theme of the upcoming G7 summit on June 8th – 9th. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna have suggested that they would advocate for a Paris-style international charter on plastics.  The 40 groups urge the federal government to commit to decisive action on plastic pollution at home, while using its G7 presidency to make progress on international action.

“Currently, Canada recycles less than 11 per cent of its plastic waste,” says Ashley Wallis, Program Manager at Environmental Defence. “The rest is left piling up in our landfills, rivers, lakes, and oceans. Voluntary, industry-led initiatives and empty promises from manufacturers aren’t going to cut it. With this Declaration, we are setting a challenge to the federal government: the world is looking to Canada for leadership on plastic pollution, and we urgently need to step up. We need to see a draft strategy this fall.”

The Declaration demands ambitious national targets for plastics recycling and the use of recycled materials.  Currently, provinces are free to set their own targets, and recycling services vary widely between municipalities. But the 40 groups argue that it’s time for the Federal Government to do more to reduce waste and promote reusability. They are calling for a harmonized national plastics recycling target of at least 85 per cent by 2025.

“For too long, plastics manufacturers have been free to create as much cheap new material as they wish, without any responsibility for what happens next,” says Mark Butler, Policy Director, Ecology Action Centre.  “By setting high national standards for recycling and use of recycled content, and making manufacturers responsible for the products that they put out, we can fundamentally change the incentives in the plastics industry. These are the tools we need to massively reduce the amount of new plastics being produced, and effectively create a zero plastic waste Canada.”

With the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, only days away, the groups also have their eyes set on the broader international scope of the issue. They want to see Canada leading the charge towards a zero plastic waste world by 2030, through an international Montreal-style treaty.

“Canada has the opportunity to show international leadership in the global plastic crisis,” says Yannick Beaudoin, Director General, Ontario and Northern Canada at the David Suzuki Foundation.  “A truckload of plastic is dumped into the world’s oceans every minute, so this is an issue that needs to be tackled on every front.  Our G7 presidency is the perfect time for Canada to take the lead and champion a global treaty which will set ambitious international targets for eliminating plastic waste.”

For a full list of signatories, please see the Towards a Zero Plastic Waste Canada declaration.


About the DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION (davidsuzuki.org): The David Suzuki Foundation is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization. We collaborate with all people in Canada, including government and business, to conserve our environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through evidence-based research, public engagement and policy work. We operate in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

About ECOLOGY ACTION CENTRE (ecologyaction.ca): The Ecology Action Centre is a membership-based environmental organization in Nova Scotia taking leadership on critical issues from biodiversity to climate change to environmental justice.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

English: Rachel Kitchin, Environmental Defence, rkitchin@environmentaldefence.ca, 416 805 0026

French: Diego Creimer, David Suzuki Foundation, dcreimer@davidsuzuki.org, 514-999-6743